This story is my entry in the LinkedIn SF writer’s group’s October short story contest. It suffers somewhat from an uneven tone, as a result of editing it down to fit into 4,000 characters, and I may eventually revisit it. For now, it stands. The story is a return to the world of Ephis, from my story Apsis in Ephis with Samir. Something in the story touched a few nerves, and I’ve written a few paragraphs of explanation at the bottom.
In Ephis, all of us are foreigners, and many of us actors. We wear our self-created parts like the masks of Carnival. None more so than I.
There is a network of mirrors that reflects light over from the Other Side, and then shines it down in fiery beams, to light our Ephesian way. One mirror, mounted high overhead on the dome, neatly pinpoints the unconscious bodies of two goons. Their companion lies somewhere in the gloom of the next flight of stairs down. Continue reading
My entry in the September short story contest on the SF writers group on LinkedIn. The theme for the month was humor. Deliberately trying to write something funny is hard work. The result, a return to the Wodehouse-ian world of Wilbur and Fox, feels slightly forced to me.
“Was that a mouse?” asked Wilbur. He levered himself into a sitting position on the floating, inflatable chair, which subsided somewhat into the water.
“I didn’t see anything,” said Fox. He stood, towel over his arm, beside the small swimming pool.
“It was about this big,” Wilbur gestured expansively, almost upsetting his chair, “and it was chasing Pelly.”
“That cat is afraid of his own shadow,” said Fox. He and the cat had a long-standing mutual dislike for each other. Continue reading
My entry for the August SF short story contest on LinkedIn. The criteria were noise, a tooth or teeth, and a discovery. I attempted to replicate the style of writing of the Campbell-edited magazines from the 50’s. Don’t think I quite succeeded.
The body floated limply in its suit, in the microgravity of the asteroid. Chief Engineer Flood examined the tiny hole in the center of the helmet. “Small meteor?” he asked over his radio. He seemed more curious than anything else. Dangerous work can make people inured to death, but this was just callous, Jason thought.
One of the engineers was examining something along the wall of the shaft. “Looks like a ball bearing or something,” he responded, “Must have been traveling fast though. Went right through him and embedded itself in the wall. Plus, we’re almost a kilometer down the shaft. The angle is completely wrong for a micro-meteorite.” Continue reading
The story features possibly the most useless zombie ever. I submitted this story to an open call for authors for an anthology. The editor liked the story, but said the tone was too humorous for the volume (what can I say, I don’t usually write in this genre). Some interesting news came out after I wrote this. More below the story (spoiler avoidance).
We’d driven up from London. The colonel’s hand-delivered summons had procured us an old beat-up Ford and nominally sufficient fuel rations in short order. The army depot had offered us a driver as well, but I didn’t have much opportunity to get behind the wheel, and had therefore declined the favour. The drive had been uneventful, thankfully, despite Charlies’ known predilection for practical jokes.
The facility sat on the edge of a small, rustic village, and had clearly been intended to appear as unobtrusive from the air as possible. There was a small gatehouse at the end of a long drive, situated under the canopy of an oak tree, and then further camouflaged with netting.
We were dressed in mufti, so the guards at the gate made us exit the vehicle and searched both us and the car thoroughly, before calling the building using a bakelite hand-cranked field-phone, to check our bona fides.
The building itself appeared to be a beautiful old pile from the outside, its facade covered with ivy that almost completely obscured the blacked-out windows. Continue reading
I wrote this a while back. Submitted it to Clarkesworld and then AE. Alas, both rejected it. The positive side is that I can now post it here. This is an attempt at writing something more down-beat. It didn’t really come together the way I’d intended though. Let’s just call it an experiment.
There’s a message waiting for me in the com shed. I’d hauled the remaining computers and communication gear there when everyone left. Small flat-panel satellite receiver bolted onto the corrugated metal roof. Still have enough juice for the generator for another year or two. Not sure what I’ll do when that runs out. If I’m still around then.
I pick up my headset and call them back. Reception is good this time of day. The satellite network isn’t too bad, most of the time, but it does have some gaps, and the station isn’t directly overhead at the moment.
“Hey, its our local hermit,” somebody says, answering my call. “Hang on, I’ll go get Zhaan. I think I saw her around here a few minutes ago.” I close my eyes for a while and wait. Continue reading
In honor of Canada Day, and also my entry in the July SF short story contest on LinkedIn. The theme was a recent news story (past few years), summer and mosquitoes.
The sun had mostly gone down over the western shore of Lake Simcoe.
We sat out on the deck, watching the light fade, swatting mosquitoes. I sipped away slowly at a nicely-chilled pale ale, and my brother Guy poked the barbeque desultorily with a metal rod. I could hear the rest of the family chatting through the sliding door.
The red and green lights of the channel into the marina reflected in the water in the distance. In the other direction, somebody was setting off celebratory fireworks at one of the waterfront mansions along Millionaire Row. Continue reading
It is nearly apsis in Ephis, The City on a Rock, the City that Almost Never Entirely Sleeps. We have traveled as far as we ever get from our little sun.
The Bright Side is on mood lighting now, and soon the light-siders will be flitting on over to the Night Side to play.
“You sure you can fix her in time?” Samir asks me. He plays gently with the keys of his piano, not pressing hard enough even to make a tone. Continue reading
My entry for the May short story competition on the Science Fiction readers, writers, collectors, and artists group on LinkedIn. I’ve been thinking of writing something slightly more substantial around the idea of the Roman Candle FTL Drive. The following story is obviously based on Wodehouse. Lemme know what you think.
“Roman Candle drives are simple things,” declared Wilbur. He brandished a large adjustable wrench in his right hand. “The mathematics are hairy, I’ll grant you that, but the machinery itself is trivially simple.”
He made a small declaratory tap of the wrench on the base of the auxiliary capacitor bank. “Tesla could have built this,” he added, further clarifying his intentions with a slightly harder tap.
“Sir, you’re likely to get your jacket covered in grease,” said Fox, attempting to draw Wilbur’s attention away, and potentially avert tragedy. “If you’ll allow me, why don’t I take a look at it while you chart our course?” Continue reading
Just submitted a short story for a collection. Hopefully it will make the cut. Otherwise will post it here.
It was a bit different than anything I’ve written before. Dark comedy, alternative history story.
I’ve been polishing a story that is going into an anthology that is being released (hopefully) a bit later this year. Will post more details once they firm up. Will write more here as soon as I have time!